Travel Diaries That Turned Into One Colorful Etsy Shop

At times, we end up taking career paths that we never thought we would even in our wildest imagination. Well, this is how unpredictable life is! It has the most peculiar ways to surprise us. Coincidences, chances, miracles, we’ve experienced it all. How one thing leads to another and how it all falls into place is beyond astounding. If you haven’t figured it all out yet, just hold on. Who knows, maybe your miracle is around the corner, too.

For our second story in the conversation series, we bring to you Holly Havnaer from A Paper Affaire. Read on to know how her love for travel turned into a passion which led to such an adorable shop!

Congratulations on doing so well on Etsy! So, what is your shop about?

Thank you! A Paper Affaire is all about my love for paper and stamps! I sell a variety of handcrafted paper products for a variety of occasions. I offer greeting cards, gift tags, candy packages, gift card boxes and wine bottle tags.

Your handmade cards look so delightful! How did you come up with the whole idea?

It all started with my love for travel. I used to make scrapbooks of my trips. One day, as I was walking the aisles of Joann’s looking for scrapbooking materials, I came across some cute card making embellishments. I started making some very simple cards for friends and family…and loved it. Then a friend told me about a local stamp store in my city. I fell in love with the shop, its style and products. I became obsessed with creating things and knew that I had to do something with my creations. Two friends suggested Etsy, but I didn’t take them seriously. Then I talked it over with my husband and he gave me the final push that I needed. I’m so grateful to him for this!

'A Paper Affaire' workstation
Is there a schedule you stick to? How do you organize your time?

I’m an ESL instructor at two community colleges in my city and teach more than full time. My paper crafting business is a side gig and I work on it every free moment I get – in the morning, late at night, on the weekends, etc.

There have been a number of times when sales were slow … However, I pushed through it and kept reminding myself to just keep working harder. My parents always taught me to work hard and this was what forced me to not give up.

You might have faced some difficulties while setting up your shop or through the journey. Please tell us about it.

I think my biggest problem is not having the time I’d like to dedicate to my craft. Because of my full-time job, I just can’t find enough time during the day. I go to bed every night brainstorming new ideas for things I want to make, but I don’t have the time to create them.

Holly stamping one of her cards
What are some of your long term goals? We’d be glad if you could share with us!

My most important goal is to have more time to create. I would love to be able to lighten my teaching load which would free up time to work on my shop. If I had this time, then I’d also like to get my products into some B&M shops.

Which is your favorite movie and what do you like about it? If you’re not a movie person, tell us about your favorite book.

There are many many books that I love, but my favorite is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It changed my perspective on so many important aspects of life. I think it should be required reading in every high school in the country.

How do you keep your customers happy and satisfied? We know they love you!

I just try to treat my customers the way I hope to be treated. I’m very passionate about my shop and take it very seriously and always try to make that evident to all my customers. I try to respond immediately (if possible) to inquiries. I always include handmade hand written thank you notes in all my orders and I try to ship packages as quickly as I can. I also strive to provide high quality products at a reasonable price.

It all started with my love for travel. I used to make scrapbooks of my trips… I became obsessed with creating things and knew that I had to do something with my creations. Two friends suggested Etsy, but I didn’t take them seriously.

Is there a belief you have been following and that has always worked for you?

The first answer that came to my mind is to never give up! There have been a number of times when sales were slow that I thought my shop was dying a slow death and that I thought I should throw in the towel. However, I pushed through it and kept reminding myself to just keep working harder. My parents always taught me to work hard and this was what forced me to not give up.

Tell us, why do you think people are likely not to succeed?

On Etsy, I think many people list things without doing their homework. They list their products without doing market research, without reading everything they can about how to set up a shop and they assume they just need to list products without putting in the hard work it requires. We could probably transfer those same concepts into being successful in life.

Lastly, what is the one thing you’re most proud of?

My shop as a whole. I’ve never ever been an artist. I’m not an artist. I’m not a business person. I didn’t study business or art or anything remotely connected to my passion. I majored in Spanish, minored in French and teach ESL. If anyone had suggested to me 10 years ago that I would have a crafty business in the future, I would have laughed in that person’s face. This was so outside of my reality. And here I am, almost 7 years later with over 5,000 sales! It still seems surreal sometimes.

Check out some of her products. You can shop for them at A Paper Affaire on Etsy, along with a lot more wonderful things!

Loved the post? Check out our previous conversation with another successful Etsy seller here. Let us know what you think about this shop in the comments below! We’d love to know your opinions.

Blog Comments

Wow!! I’m speechless! Thank you SO much for this!! I’m so grateful! You guys are amazing!

Thank you for being such a sport about this, Holly. Loved doing this with you! 🙂

I’ve bought batches of different cards from Holly over the past few years. I keep coming back to A Paper Affaire because Holly constantly updates her inventory adding charming touches or varying up color schemes, and she really does provide excellent customer service. Not once has one of her cards been wrinkled or bent on delivery. I cannot write the same about other card shops on Etsy. Her whimsical designs are always a hit with the recipients too. Holly’s cards are conversation starters, so it doesn’t surprise me that her love of stamping and card creation stemmed from scrapbooking. Sharing a scrapbook with someone is so personal. You naturally converse about shared experiences and memories. Holly’s cards have that same invitation. Not just “read me”, but also “talk about me” which I love! Thank you for this post. I enjoyed learning more about one of my favorite Etsy creators.

Hi Irene. Thank you for reading it, too. And Holly would be so glad to see this lovely, lovely comment!
Keep coming back for many more stories here. Stay tuned 🙂

Ohmygosh Irene!! You are so wonderful!! I’m speechless!

awesome work Holly!!! Your cards are unique, fun, and keepers! Keep it up, sistah!

Thanks Meen!! Love you!

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